Photo: Pixabay

Plastic: a double edged sword?

Is it really as bad as we think?

Take a look around you. I bet that somewhere in your line of sight, there is some form of plastic. It’s everywhere – our lives revolve around its convenience and its inescapable accessibility. The supermarket is an obvious place to start when considering just how useful plastic can be. Put one foot in Tesco and you will be confronted with row after row of plastic-clad vegetables, punnets of fruit and sandwiches, all sealed in for hygiene and freshness. Consider your average meal deal: your choice of sandwich, some classic Walkers crisps, and a bottle of water. All come sealed within some form of plastic – it is endemic within the way we shop, and within the way we view and purchase food. Now, look for the telltale green label that indicates that something can be recycled. Will that stop you from chucking your sandwich wrapper in the closest Market Street bin whilst you rush to your next lecture? We all hope that we will recycle, but is that the reality? Is the infrastructure to allow that even in place? Only 9% of all plastic waste on earth has ever been recycled. The UN estimates that 40% of the global population lack any access to waste disposal systems, never mind recycling centres. With this in mind, it seems that recycling is not a viable, long-term solution. 

Photo: Pixabay

It is easy to demonise plastic – there is nothing that evokes this more effectively than turning on the TV to images of seals and turtles tangled in plastic bags, whilst David Attenborough’s sad but dulcet tones relay the tragedy that we have brought upon ourselves and our beautiful planet. And it’s true: 8 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean each year, yet we continue to use it at alarming rates. The consumer in most cases has little choice in the matter – plastic consumption is so engrained within our society that it is impossible to avoid. And yes, it seems that although plastic is environmentally satanic, upon further consideration, the issue is not so obvious, and the solutions become even more evasive.

Around a decade ago, one UK supermarket experimented by taking all of its fruit and vegetables out of their packaging – the result was that food waste doubled. Currently, according to a UK government report, only 3% of food is wasted before it gets to the shops – some of this food will have been transported halfway across the world, and it will still be fresh. In our increasingly globalised world, we can import and export fresh produce year-round from developing countries, and in doing so, countless livelihoods are created and maintained for those who desperately need them. This would not be possible without plastic. We need plastic; we rely on it. Just as it has infiltrated every ocean and every ecosystem, it has also infiltrated our society to a point, sadly, of no return. On a scale much larger than simply food production, plastic was revolutionary. It was a miracle-worker. The modern world has grown up with it, and around it. 

Photo: Pixabay

Consider another environmental demon: the transport sector. The terrible impact of vehicle emissions on the global atmosphere and climate has been well-documented, with links between carbon dioxide and global warming being irrefutable (except if you’re Donald Trump). However, one way to reduce the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere by vehicles is to make them lighter – and the most effective way to do this is by using more plastic in place of traditional materials. For every pound of vehicle weight that can be eliminated, 25.3 pounds of CO2 emissions are saved over the course of a vehicles lifetime. The plot thickens. According to the British Plastics Federation, studies have shown that if we replaced plastic packaging with alternative materials, it would actually result in 2.7 times more greenhouse gas emissions being released into the atmosphere. 

Photo: Pixabay

So, to end, two uncharacteristically negative truths: ‘Saving the planet’ is not straightforward. Indeed, ‘saving the planet’ might not be possible at all. National Geographic recently launched a campaign called ‘Planet or Plastic’, as if the choice were this obvious and straightforward. Sadly not. It is far more complex, which is probably why nobody can think of a solution. Despite being one of the most devastating materials to have ever been invented, in some respects, the fact remains that plastic has a lot to offer. Plastic is perhaps the very definition of a double-edged sword – except lighter and more cheaply manufactured than traditional swords, with the additional option of transparency. 

Comments

comments

212 thoughts on “Plastic: a double edged sword?

  1. Have you ever thought about including a little bit more than just your articles?

    I mean, what you say is important and everything.

    But think of if you added some great images or videos to give your posts more, “pop”!
    Your content is excellent but with pics and videos, this blog could definitely be one of the very best in its field.
    Amazing blog!

  2. We are a bunch of volunteers and opening a new scheme in our community. Your website provided us with helpful info to work on. You’ve performed an impressive job and our whole community will probably be grateful to you.

  3. I am often to blogging and i really appreciate your content. The article has really peaks my interest. I am going to bookmark your site and keep checking for new information.

  4. Member Funding Access varieties and tools to file expense stories, evaluate Grant and Zone
    Scholarship balances, and access NAIC travel pointers.

  5. You can certainly see your skills in the paintings you write. The sector hopes for even more passionate writers like you who are not afraid to mention how they believe. At all times follow your heart. “If the grass is greener in the other fellow’s yard – let him worry about cutting it.” by Fred Allen.

  6. Hi, Neat post. There is a problem with your site in internet explorer, would check this… IE still is the market leader and a big portion of people will miss your magnificent writing due to this problem.

  7. http://handbagmonster.com http://mpfasdpic.org http://rocela.pl http://razemwiecej.pl http://redturtlemusic.com http://fluorognost.com Information UK is part of
    Information Corp – a global media enterprise focused on creating and distributing content material that educates,
    entertains, informs and inspires our clients. http://dlsgallery.com http://tofiq.org http://catapultconsultingsolutions.com http://godsplanet4haiti.org http://handbagmonster.com http://softcupbra.org

  8. Good post. I learn something totally new and challenging on websites I stumbleupon on a daily basis. It will always be exciting to read through content from other authors and use something from their web sites.

  9. An interesting discussion is worth comment. I think that you should write more on this topic, it might not be a taboo subject but generally people are not enough to speak on such topics. To the next. Cheers

  10. An outstanding share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a colleague who has been conducting a little research on this. And he actually bought me dinner simply because I found it for him… lol. So let me reword this…. Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending time to talk about this topic here on your internet site.

  11. Howdy! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and tell you I truly enjoy reading through your articles. Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that go over the same subjects? Thanks for your time!

  12. Good – I should definitely pronounce, impressed with your web site. I had no trouble navigating through all tabs and related info ended up being truly easy to do to access. I recently found what I hoped for before you know it at all. Quite unusual. Is likely to appreciate it for those who add forums or anything, website theme . a tones way for your customer to communicate. Excellent task.

  13. Pingback: Leandro Farland

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

THE STAND